I receive a lot of press releases. Since I do PR for a number of agencies, I like to see what is out there and how things are spun. I like reading them, actually. I can take them “to go” on my Palm and, despite looking like a complete moron when laughing out loud, they can be quite entertaining.
One of the things I look for are headlines that “link bait” – that is, a controversial headline or sound bite that is designed to get people clicking. Most of the time link bait is all hype and no substance, really by design. Sometimes, it is not.
Today came this little jewel:
“Cruise Travelers Are Now Receiving Commission Checks of Up to 15% When Booking Directly With the Cruise Lines”
That one screamed, “click me!” – so I did. I was certain it was another ploy by the suppliers to bypass commissions to our already overworked and underpaid little corner of retail industry commerce.
It ended up being a new spin on an old, tired industry blot. An MLM. A card mill. A promise to pay $20 per month and “go directly to the cruise lines to find the best possible rates, book the cruise, and best of all, earn up to 100% of the commission.”
Since I don’t want to give this outfit anymore web real estate, I won’t publish their web address here. Needless to say, while I applaud their “entrepreneurial spirit” for trying to capitalize on the availability of websites, press releases and a finely tuned, slick press release copy, I am just as tired as every other travel professional that this relegates to the position of “order taker” and “button pusher”.
It takes talent, skill, expertise and training to match the right cruise with the right vacationer. If anyone thinks otherwise, then the next time their vacation goes wrong they should try and call the Internet. Those that work hard for ACC, MCC, ECC and, yes, CTC shouldn’t have to continue to put up with the DIY (do-it-yourself) enablers diluting the respectability of this industry. It is why some very respectable host agencies are labeled unfairly, in my opinion. Its hard enough for the general public to separate the signal from the noise; now we’re starting to see suppliers with a little hearing loss, too.
One small delightful note: Their press release was much better than their website. Mixed in with the “commission calculators”, cheesy open source hacked code and grammatical errors; along with the pirate graphics (apropos, I say), and copy and paste statistics from CLIA, I found the forum. A discussion panel for all those suckers out there ready to plunk down their $20 per month, and take their free cruises. Know what the only topic was?
If anyone wants to join their “conversation”, comment on this post and I’ll send you their details via e-mail.